Improvements on Mildura-Merbein Salt Interception Scheme

This winter, GMW is undertaking $1.34 million of refurbishment works at the Mildura-Merbein Salt Interception Scheme site, jointly funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and Mallee Catchment Management Authority (MCMA).

The works will address a number of operational limitations and will deliver an improved groundwater pumping system to continue to minimise the volume of saline groundwater entering the Murray River from the surrounding region.

Goulburn-Murray Water’s General Manager Water Storage Services, Martina Cusack said this includes improvements and maintenance on bore field pumps.

“The works will connect the existing piped sub-systems and create a more efficient and operator-friendly system,” she said.

“Not only will the benefits include better system pressure, but modifications will improve pipeline cleaning processes and allow for better chlorination of all production bores.

“During the works, pumps, valves and existing outfall structures will be inspected and replaced or rationalised where required. Access tracks will also be upgraded to improve safety for future maintenance and inspection works.”

Salt is a natural part of Murray-Darling Basin landscapes and rivers, with groundwater systems close to the River Murray holding more than 100,000 million tonnes of salt.

Irrigators in the region play a key role in minimising the impacts of salinity through the adoption of highly efficient irrigation methods and on-farm drainage management. These activities reduce recharge to regional groundwater systems and lessen the volume of salt entering the Murray River.

Ms Cusack said salt interception schemes such as this one are vital for managing and diverting regional saline groundwater before it enters the Murray River.

“This particular scheme prevents more than 70 tonnes of salt entering the River per day and comprises a series of groundwater bores connected by a network of pipes that outfall into Lake Ranfurly.”

Irrigators in high-risk salinity areas pay salinity impact charges to manage and mitigate salinity impacts from their activities. These charges, managed by MCMA, are being used to jointly fund these improvements.

The works are expected to take about eight weeks to complete and are scheduled to begin towards the end of June 2022 during the irrigation shutdown period.

During this time the surrounding dirt track will be open to local traffic only.

For more information on the River Murray salt interception schemes and the Basin Salinity Management 2030 program visit MDBA website: Keeping salt out of the Murray | Murray-Darling Basin Authority (mdba.gov.au)